Masterton sled dog club up-and-running

By Hayley Gastmeier hayley.gastmeier@age.co.nz -
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Greytown Siberian huskies Zara, 2, and Teeko, 9 weeks, with owner Tania Hastelow, who is training her huskies to pull her "sleigh", a modified bicycle. PHOTO/ANDREW BONALLACK
Greytown Siberian huskies Zara, 2, and Teeko, 9 weeks, with owner Tania Hastelow, who is training her huskies to pull her "sleigh", a modified bicycle. PHOTO/ANDREW BONALLACK

Instead of taking your dog for a walk, how about getting it into sled dog racing for exercise?

Masterton will have its very own club dedicated to the winter sport, which is ideal for dogs that love to run.

The Ridge Runners Sled Dog Racing Club is a family orientated club that hosts sled dog racing events and competitions, with bases in locations throughout the North Island.

Tania Hastelow, of Greytown, is set to run the Wairarapa branch, which will hold an open day on April 16, from 2-5pm in Queen Elizabeth Park, Masterton.

Miss Hastelow got into the sport last year with her 2-year-old husky, Zara, who "just loves it".

With Zara, her fiance Brett Webster, and their new 9-week-old husky pup Teeko, she will host training nights on the sport during the winter months on Wednesdays from 6.30pm.

Miss Hastelow said the sport was for "any dog that wants to run", with all medium to large dog breeds capable of competing.

"It doesn't have to be a husky, it can be any dog that's strong enough to pull a human."

At the Masterton open day there will be videos and equipment on display and, weather permitting, there will be short demonstrations with scooters, bicycles and rigs.

The sport entails the dog being put into a special harness.

A bungy cord then connects the harness to either a bike or scooter, or a rig, which is a sled designed for multiple dogs.

"When you're out in the forest and there's no cellphone reception and you run the dogs, come back for a cooked breakfast and a cup of coffee, it's just awesome," Miss Hastelow said.

"You get away from it all and the dogs love it."

Miss Hastelow was a member of the Ridge Runners Sled Dog Racing Club Headquarters, in her hometown of Palmerston North.

Last year she moved to Wairarapa for work together with her fiance, who was born in Masterton.

"We missed the club so we thought why don't we start our own."

She said people coming to training nights could expect runs of between 5km and 9km.

The winter dog sport is most popular in the Arctic regions of the United States, Canada, Russia, Greenland and some European countries.

"The weather needs to be 14C and below to run, and the doggies just love it," Miss Hastelow said.

Masterton event updates will be posted on the Ridge Runners Sled Dog Racing Club - Headquarters Facebook page.

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